The Small Business Administration (SBA) Office of the Inspector General (OIG) has ranked IT investments as one of the top eight “critically important” challenges for the agency in the OIG’s first half fiscal year (FY) 2023 Semiannual Report to Congress.
The OIG also flagged fraud risk and vulnerabilities challenges with SBA’s economic relief programs as another critical challenge.
“The management challenges represent areas OIG considers particularly vulnerable to fraud, waste, abuse, or mismanagement, or which otherwise pose significant risk to the agency, its operations, or its credibility,” the 77-page report says.
Specifically, SBA ranked its economic relief programs as susceptible to significant fraud risks and vulnerabilities as challenge number one – noted its third “significant” challenge as IT investment, system development, and security controls.
The other six challenges include inaccurate data and need for better oversight management, among other risks.
“The Office of Inspector General (OIG) provides independent and objective oversight of SBA programs for the benefit of the American people by identifying key issues facing the agency, recommending corrective actions, and promoting a high level of integrity,” SBA IG Mike Ware said.
Each of the eight management challenges originated from one or more reports issued by OIG or the Government Accountability Office (GAO), SBA said.
For the last three years, SBA has been tasked with overseeing the $1 trillion in pandemic assistance obligated to its programs for the economic recovery of America’s small businesses.
When SBA expedited relief to those in need during the pandemic, the agency relaxed internal controls, increasing the risk of program fraud, abuse, and improper payments.
As the landscape continues to unfold, the report says the agency is continuing to collaborate across government to “shine a light on rampant potential fraud in pandemic relief programs.”
OIG pandemic oversight and investigative work has resulted in 860 indictments, 687 arrests, and 486 convictions as of March 2023.
The report notes SBA OIG’s four strategic goals for FYs 2022-27:
- Promote the integrity, efficiency, and effectiveness of SBA programs and activities;
- Amplify oversight impact through effective communication and stakeholder engagement;
- Cultivate and maintain a culture that inspires innovation, high performance, self-leadership, and accountability; and
- Leverage data and technology to effectively advance operational improvements and oversight.